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Thread: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

  1. #1
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    Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    Hello!

    I just ordered a Dell mini-9 with Ubuntu for my 13 yo daughter. While she's very comfortable with chat, yahoo mail, youtube, and web surfing, I want to use this as an opportunity to really teach her about computers.

    The thing is, I have no formal computer education myself. I mostly know what I've soaked up during the past some years of computer use (starting with an Apple II+ at age 20) but it's just a mishmash of knowledge.

    Any recommendations for learning resources appropriate for a fun-loving, but definitely not geeky 8th grader will be greatly appreciated. Right now, I'm thinking of starting with the manuals that come with the mini-9, the ubuntu pocket guide, the help docs on the ubuntu.org site. But there's so much more she ought to learn to consider herself competent with computers.

    Please help. What do you recommend?

    Thanks,

    Lisa

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    Not really a recommendation. I have 3 kids, all using Ubuntu. I just wait for their questions. They have to _learn_ stuff everyday at school.. When it comes to the computer (games, edition of documents for school, internet searches or other things) I wait they have a need to discover something.
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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    Quote Originally Posted by LisaM View Post
    Please help. What do you recommend?

    Thanks,

    Lisa
    Hey Lisa,

    The two most important things, I think, are the following:

    * show her how to look online for help with stuff she might run into. Then again, at 13, she probably knows that googling for "ubuntu followed by whatever the issue is" is how to find the answer to everything

    * give her room to make mistakes and mess around with her system without fear. Help her back up her settings and documents to a USB key or something, and make sure she has a way to reinstall the machine, so that no matter if something gets screwy on her machine, she can just start fresh and go forward.

    Those are the big ones in my books - where to look, and soft landings for mistakes. Fail early, fail often is my mantra

    -Leigh

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    I am with bapoumba - I let me children use the computer for fun -- though they do learn while doing it. My daughter has learned quite a bit about computers since she started using them. She is just eight and can move music on to her MP3 player, get pictures off of her camera and she uses OO to write short stories. As she gets older I will teach her more as she asks, but I like that the computer does not have a stigma of forced learning attached to it.

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    Just an idea.. Maybe you should install Virtualbox and let her experiment in virtual machines. Like setting up a webserver and creating her own blog on that, or something. Anything that lies in her interests, should work out fine as long as she has the motivation and knowledge how to search about problems. Fortunately, google works well for searching on problems related to Ubuntu, so if she can do that i think she can do it.

    Her age might not be a disadvantage, as long as she has motivation, she has the capacity to learn extremely quickly. The problem seems to be that girls find other areas in life more interesting than technology. While technology isn't the most important thing in life, its use is becoming increasingly popular and our society increasingly relies on it. So i really hope girls will be motivated and find computers, technology and science as interesting as most boys/men do. Maybe they need to be treated differently; also the fact that many technology was created by men might be a threshold; it might be difficult to 'fit in', i can imagine.

    Anyway, best of luck. Hope she has a nice experience with Ubuntu.

  6. #6
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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    the only way to start out, is to want to do something, and to have a problem doing it, and to fix it. if you're weird enough to enjoy that experience, then you join a forum and hang out with us.

    interest is key. no one will ever be interested in exactly how a hard drive functions when they start out. one of the things i find amusing, is that many of the people drawn to computing professionally, started out just trying to get free stuff off the Internet.

    I don't know if you wanna be sneaky, but I'd break her IM, and see how long it takes her to fix it. send her a video with a codec she does not have installed. point out email hoaxes when they arrive in your inbox (look for spelling errors to get a laugh at the spamers expense), that kind of thing.

    the first major step, is to learn to learn. point her to google, and give tips on good queries, and how to find the results within the listing. it's important that she realize that no genius is required, and that it is completely possible (unless it isn't. thats lesson 2). it is once she can fish, thats all she needs unless she chooses to make a career of it.

    best regards
    Last edited by doas777; April 29th, 2009 at 10:24 PM. Reason: your != you're

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    i think that Teaching, computers, 13 yo, non-geeky and girl does not matters (most of them for the age)

    Let her "play" with the system (make a secondary no sudoer user if she thinks that will be safer )
    When ask for something say what you know about the subject
    If she ask something and you dont know the answer come here to ask or search with her at your side

    that is something in general useful at anything that you want to theach to a young person aside of gender or knowledge

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    My son is four. He has never been in a household with less than three computers. They've all run on windows and he had become fairly proficient at it (for a four year old)
    He knew how to open files, how to get paint up, how to browse the internet by clicking picture links. He even knew how to type (from memory) addresses like pbskids.org and things like that.

    I recently got a computer running successfully with ubuntu (I've tried several times on past machines with different distros and they always ended in failure...ultimately scaring me away from linux for about a year)

    Really, I just set him up with his own name, wrote down the letters to type to log in, and he figured out on his own how to run the games i installed for him. He's even made(several) openoffice documents containing jibberish on his desktop, without my encouraging.

    What I'm trying to say is, I think if you just let her be, she'll find her niche. That's what my parents did with me. I dont remember what kind of computer my first one was, but I do remember using 5 1/2 floppies and having to utilize the 'copy' program. (not to mention waiting for what felt like hours for my dad to pirate a ninja turtles game for me from my neigbor) I hadn't had any formal training untill just a year ago, but I can now run circles around even my professors on any windows machine.

    If she doesn't have interest, then I wouldn't force it. (although the whole breaking her IM thing is kinda a good idea) I'm sure she's already proficient enough to be able to make a document, spreadsheet, or presentation. And I'll bet if you give her a couple hours with a flowchart program, she could figure that out too (if she has any reasonable understanding of structural logic) or at least HOW to use it.

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    Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    I appreciate everyone's good will in this thread, but I feel frustrated that I haven't explained myself very well. My daughter is thoroughly competent using a computer. She's not a technophobe. But there is a huge gap between using a computer and knowing on what's going on 'under the hood'. I feel it myself, and I've been using computers practically since they were invented.

    How does one learn the 'under the hood' stuff? I have a house full of Ubuntu books, haunt the internet, read the man pages, and I'm still coming up very, very short. Do you have to take CS courses at university to pick this stuff up? Because I know for a fact that using a computer alone isn't going to do it.

    Give you an example. Something breaks. You write the question to the forum, and somebody in the know tells you to type in some lines of code somewhere. Where did that knowledge come from? How can I make sure that my daughter (and I) can tap into that and really understand what is going on?

    Thanks!

  10. #10
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    Talking Re: Need advice: Teaching computers to 13 yo non-geeky girl

    Im not geeky and i have 14.i had 12 when started with Ubuntu.I loved Orange Gnome desktop and now i know any command from "]" to "zgrep".You should switch to Winslows if your girl doesn`t like this wonderful OS.Today`s girls are so ****,excuse me please.So you must take it easy.my 6 years old sister just loves Ubuntu.And she`s a normal girl with fashion blah blah )
    so leave her to discover.Be sure that she doesn`t screw hardware how i screwed my Video Card with wrong drivers.

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